Freshman Makes Most of UC Merced Experience
If Trinidad Flores had one piece of advice to offer her fellow freshman, it would be that college is what you make of it.
"Meeting people is easy if you take it upon yourself to do it," the 18-year-old chemistrymajor said. "If you sit by yourself in the Lantern and don't talk to anybody, you won't make any friends."
Flores admits to be a little worried about having a social life at UC Merced before classes started, but she says that fear was quickly replaced by excitement over the opportunities for involvementhere.
"Merced did surprise me," the Pasadena native admits. "There is actually a lot to do in town. You just have to access it - whether that's by Cat Tracksor through a friend who has a car.
As one of the many freshmen living on campuswithout a car, Flores says she relies heavily on the university bus system to get her to where she needs to go, whether that's for fun or necessity.
Despite the convenience of Cat Tracks, Flores doesn't feel the need to leave campus more than a couple of times a week because of the flurry of activity going on within UC Merced's borders.
"It's been a busy semester," she said. "It seems there's something going on almost every night."
Her favorite event so far has been Sushi Night, a hands-on demonstration that showed students how to make their own Japanese-style rolls.
"I made sushi all by myself that looked like something I could buy in a restaurant."
But that wasn't the end to the fun. Flores was most surprised by the presence of Chancellor Steve Kang,who was there to help students perfect their edible creations.
"I talked to him," she said. "I don't know if he'll ever remember me, but we did talk."
Though she says she's having the time of her life, Flores knows that college life is just as much about academicsas it is about fun and friends. In fact, if she had a word of advice to pass on to peers and future students, it would be to take advantage of the services available at UC Merced that promote academic success.
"You have to take advantage of office hours," she said, referring to the availability of
facultymembers to answer questions outside of class or offer additional help.
Mid-semester grades are something else for which she's thankful. Since UC Merced operates on a semester calendar, it's one of the few UC campuses that can provide students with mid-term grades to let them know where they stand academically.
"I'm exactly where I thought I'd be," Flores said. "I feel like I've earned the grades I have, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to work to improve."
That drive to be her best is something Flores credits to being the first in her family to pursue higher education. Her mother has a high school diploma, and her father dropped out in elementary school to join the work force.
"My parents are paying hard-earned money for me to be here, but I don't feel forced. I want to be here in college. I want that degree. It's a personal goal."